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Friday, October 21, 2011

Parveen Saeed: A Beautiful Mind

Khana Ghar (photo courtesy by DAWN News)
News defines life in Pakistan. It is not just a means to inform about important issues and events but here it highlights the most petty of events that do not fit in the equation of responsible jouranlism or ethics of journalism or even 'newsworthy' per se.
Against the odds, story of Parveen Saeed, has been around for a while and despite the fact that major newspapers have highlighted Parveen's story but once again,  Wusatullah Khan Niazi of BBC Urdu, has done the most incredible stories on Pakistan - to refresh a story of hope, of determination and of change within the Pakistani society. We should repeat the motivational stories because we as a nation have a very short term memory and we tend to forget very easily.This story is against the usual current and flow of doing journalism in Pakistan. Here I would like to share Parveen's mission of life ( To fight Hunger) which was covered by BBC Urdu :  Parveen Saeed, a middle class, Karachiite - who is feeding the hungry for Rs.3/- only. What drove her for the cause?

A couple of years ago, Parveen heard about a woman who killed her two children because she could not even afford a meal in days - this woman lost her battle against hunger. This lead Parveen to move from a rather better neighborhood to really a poor neighborhood and started a kitchen called : Khana Ghar - A Soup Kitchen sort of a facility where one has to pay Rs. 3/- (three-ruppee-meal)  which in dollars (USD) can be broken down to about  one cent for a proper meal. In the beginning - she and her family chipped in money from their own pocket and then they spread the message through friends and family and further to  schools and colleges. With time people started to come to her to donate what they could for her kitchen because they knew that the money will be used rightly.

There are hundreds and thousands of philanthropic organizations providing free food but she still charges a cent: why is that? She replied, "....she wants to send a message that when people buy or pay even a little they will NOT misuse food and second: the logic of keeping a very low price will in turn drive people to work enough to get this meal - hence, changing their perspective on life". She also said that her organization never returned any hungry person away even if they could not pay! She said that even if this is a great cause and she is trying her best however, she can not bring an end to hunger! It is possible only if we change our thinking  as a nation and that change will drive away hunger or malpractises or disease etc. with which our society is plagued with. It has more to do with the citizen's responsibility at a national level.

Hats off to Parveen Saeed and her modest yet very noble cause!

Her work was full of hurdles. Her charitable programs of Khana Ghar and Dawa Ghar (medical facility)  have been repeatedly attacked by the local gangsters and police have refused to even file a report or help her according to  Asian Human Rights Commision's Report here!

I think it is the Politics of Tandoor or of  Roti, Kapara and Makan (food, clothing and housing idea of Z.A. Bhutto) in Pakistan  which has dragged her program and efforts into this, which others see as threat hence, she saw a lot of resistance within the community where she was trying to help. .

Khana Ghar's website.

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